Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY Papier-Mâché (Paper Mache) Anubis/Jackal Mask

WOW, I can't believe a week passed without a post. What can I say- life happens ;-). So back to last week which brings me to this week. It was the last week of school before the "winter" holiday and everything, I mean EVERYTHING was happening last week. My youngest started preschool on the other side of Dubai, all three kids were having holiday parties at school annnnd of course the entire first grade year was celebrating the end of term with Egyptian day. Did I mention I was just starting to get over a nasty cold? I didn't think so.

Aside from making fruit kababs, (don't say kabob, trust me, it's kabab) mini sandwiches, and hotdog rolls (we don't have "pigs in a blanket" in the UAE lol) I still had to make Z2 a pharaoh costume. I remembered 4 nights before it was due. I still had time, so I thought. After sharing some modest ideas with Z2 I realized it couldn't just be any pharaoh costume, noooooo, this was serious business. It had to be a jackal. For crying out loud! I'm Egyptian, and honestly had no idea what a jackal was. No worries though, google saved the day, and then I wanted to cry. Anubis?!?! My son wanted to be the protector of the dead and embalming? For real? I guess King Tut is so 1999. Well, since the first night was officially wasted in research and negotiating an easier costume, I now had 3 days to make this...

I did a lot of praying, head scratching and sweating, a lot of SWEATING. Who was I kidding, this was impossible. Then an idea sparked. I could do a papier-mâché (paper mache) mask. My idea materialized  into this...

Not too shabby huh?

From Daiso:
A masquerade mask as the base
Large piece of felt fabric
Adhesive velvet (for the inside of the mask)
Already had at home:
Liquid glue (Elmer's or Tacky)
Black and gold paint 
Scrap paper and a tarp

I started with a square piece of foil, placed it behind the mask, and shaped it to Z2's forehead and created two points for the ears. I cut off the access foil and left a small amount to glue behind the mask later. 
 Then I took another piece of foil and fit it to the nose of the masquerade mask.
After I shaped that piece to the mask, I used the shape of my hand to mold it more into a nose with a rounded snout at the end.

 Final nose piece. I know it looks like scrap, but it came together.
I placed hot glue at the tip of the mask and glued my foil nose to it. When working with hot glue and foil you have to be EXTREMELY careful because the hot glue heats up the foil to a burning temperature. If you've been burned by hot glue you can multiply that pain by one hundred and that's how much the hot foil burns. I get hurt so you don't have to :o)
 Now I have the two pieces of foil glued to the mask, but the ears were not long enough.
I got two more pieces of foil, extended the length of the ears and gave them a more pointy and upright form just like the original Anubis. I carefully hot glued those foil pieces together. There was no other way to get it to hold tight.

You can see the glue, tissue, and brush supplies in the pics above, but once my hands got sticky I forgot to take pics of the papier-mâché process. Basically, I applied a generous amount of glue over one section of the mask at a time and laid the tissue over it. Then I applied another thin layer of glue over the tissue and placed another layer of tissue over that. I covered the entire surface of the mask with two layers of tissue total to allow for a more cohesive blend between the plastic mask and the foil. I allowed it to dry for a day and a half. The mask was all white when I was done. If I had more time I would have added more layers of tissue for a smoother and less crinkled look, but the texture wasn't too bad.

When it was time to color it, I did things backwards a bit. I knew it would be hard to get a crisp gold spray over the black so I sprayed gold over the ears, eyes and tip of the nose first.
Then I cut out scraps of paper and covered the gold sections. I just set the scraps over the mask, no taping necessary.
 Then I went over the entire mask with black spray paint.
When I removed the scraps of paper I had bright shiny gold accents against the black face. The eyes needed to be touched up, but that wasn't a problem. Easiest spray paint job I've ever done.

In the very end I went back and used my gold metalic paint to give the eyes a stronger accent. When I sprayed the black over the gold, the gold slightly came through giving the black a nice metallic tint. That was a surprise that really made it cool. 
Since the inside of the mask got spray paint on it, I was worried about skin contact, plus the foil wasn't very comfortable. I used a sheet of adhesive velvet to cover and soften the inside. 

It was a large sheet that had graph paper on the back for easy measuring. I've never seen this in the States, but I'm sure it's there. I cut out a piece to size and stuck it in. 
 I used an X-acto knife to cut out the now covered eyes. 

Now it was time to attach the felt to the mask which would cover the back of Z2's head and come down the back of his neck. I folded one end of the fabric two times and glued it to the inside top of the mask.

Since Anubis is technically topless, and Z2 is quite the technical perfectionist,  I had to either draw a bare chest on a t-shirt or let Z2 go to school topless. I think the choice was obvious. :o)  I used my fabric markers to draw his chest and abs lol.
I also gave him my Cleopatra collar from my costume when I was a kid. For the skirt I tied a long rectangular scarf around his waist.

 Sorry for the blurry pic. The best I could get from this wiggly kid. 
 More wiggling and flailing.

Luckily, it was easy to breath with it on, and if he needed to eat he could rest it on top of his head with out having to take it completely off. 

I can't believe I got this done in 3 days especially considering when working with kids they move slower as time runs faster lol. That is definitely pushing it since I really only had the evening to work on it and left no time for plan B or C in case of failure. All's well that ends well. 

The important question I now leave you all with is who was a better Egyptian, me or Z2? :-) Thanks for stopping by! 



  1. Great job as always habibty!

  2. Is it durable? because im gonna wear it for the whole day.

  3. Yes. Very. I have had mine for three years now and still in great shape


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